Part I <<< Index >>>Part III




Azerbaijanis have always been vigorously active in the political, cultural, linguistic, and commercial domains of Persia. Turkish, spoken by the majority of Iran’s Azerbaijani populace, is one of the many languages of Iran’s multi-ethnic populace. Turkish can be heard not only in Tabriz, but in many rural and metropolitan parts of Iran, especially in Tehran.


In my visit to Tehran a few years ago, I recall the cab driver asking me what music I wanted to hear in his car: “Sir are you in the mood for Turkish music?...I also have the latest from Ercan from Istanbul…or are you in the mood for Persian? On that note, how about some Luri or Kurdish?


This tiny example neatly encapsulates what Persia has always been about since its founding by Cyrus the great. Persia is not confined by linear conceptions such as “race”, “language” or even “culture”. An Iranian can just as easily be speaking Arabic in Khuzistan, Baluchi in Zahedan, or Turkish in Maragheh. It is this Persia that certain opportunistic and naïve individuals and organizations believe they can destroy, and the main tool they have been using is “language and cultural rights” (Part VI, item 10). There is a distinction between legitimate rights (e.g. language, cultural expression, theology, etc.) versus entities who deceptively appropriate these “rights” to mask a divisive and potentially violent agenda.


The pan-Turanian theories discussed in Part I represent only a part of the picture. There is a whole set of beliefs being narrated about Iranian Azerbaijan in both the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Turkish Republic. They are using the Turkish language as an instrument to differentiate Iranian Turcophones from the rest of Iran. Some of the pan-Turanian claims to Iranian Azerbaijan can be summarized into the following:


(1) Greater Azerbaijan was divided between Russia and Persia.

(2) Azerbaijanis have spoken Turkish since the advent of History.

(3) Turks have been in the Caucasus for over 5000 Years.

(4) The Safavid Empire was Turkish.

(5) Sattar Khan was a pan-Turanian separatist.

(6) Babak Khorramdin was a Turk who fought against Persia.

(7) Azerbaijanis and all who speak Turkish are Turkish by race.


Before discussing these items, an important point must be revisited. Pan-Turanian claims to Azerbaijan are supported by a very powerful western lobby in the form of multinational and geopolitical petroleum interests. These hope to access and dominate the lucrative oil bonanza looming in the energy deposits of the Caucasus and Central Asia (see Part VI, items 1-3).


(1) Greater Azerbaijan was divided between Russia and Persia.


This is the belief that there was an independent kingdom by the name of “Azerbaijan” (encompassing Arran and Iranian Azerbaijan). This “kingdom” is then claimed to have been partitioned between Qajar Iran and Tsarist Russia in the treaties of Golestan (1813) and Turkemenchai (1827); leading to the creation of a Russian occupied North Azerbaijan and Iranian occupied South Azerbaijan. This account is a fictional narrative at best, and a gross distortion of historical events.


(a) Arran & the Historical Azerbaijan. The first recorded reference to Azerbaijan can be traced to Aturpat [i] , the local Iranian commander of the region at the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia in 333 BC. Aturpat is Old Persian for “guardian/keeper” (pat/bad) of the “fire” (Atur) [ii] . The region of Aturpat, was known in Old Persian as Aturpatkan [iii] (“The place of the Guardian/keeper of the fire”). The region was known as such until the Arab conquests of Persia in the 7th century AD [iv] . After the battle of Nahavand, the Arabs broke through the Malayir plains of northwest Iran in 642 AD and into Aturpatkan. The region was henceforth referred to by its Arabic pronunciation, Azerbaijan.


Historical sources have clearly delineated the historical Azerbaijan as having been situated between the Daylamites of Northern Persia to their east, with the Araxes River as its northernmost limit. The region north/northeast of the Araxes River was known as Arran. This region was variously known as Ardan by the Parthians, as well as Alban/Albania as per the Caucasian designation. Armenian historians cite the region north of the Araxes as “Agvan”, “Agvanak”, “Alvan” or “Alvanak”. The region above the Araxes River has never been known as “Azerbaijan”. Professors Touraj Atabaki and Jalal Matini (see References) have listed numerous primary historical sources that provide indisputable evidence of the clear delineation between Arran/Albania and the historical Azerbaijan in Iran. A handful of these include: 


Strabo (64/63 BC-23 AD): Cites the people of Iranian Azerbaijan (known as Media Atropatene at the time of Strabo) as Iranians and with Persian as their language [v] . The “Persian” cited by Strabo would have most likely been of the Parthian Pahlavi variety at the time.

Arrian (92-c. 175 AD): The region north of the Araxes River is cited as “Albania” and south of the Araxes as “Media Atropatene”.

The Hodud-ol-Alam Text (10th century AD): Cites the Araxes River as the northern limit of Azerbaijan.

Ibn-Hawqal: Cites the Araxes River as the southern limit of Arran.

Al-Muqaddasi (10th Century AD): Divided Persia into eight regions which include both Azerbaijan and Arran. Defines Arran as being situated between the Caspian Sea and the Araxes River. 

Yaqut Al-Hamavi (13th Century AD): Defines Arran and Azerbaijan as distinct territories with the Araxes River forming the boundary between them. Arran defined as north and west of the Araxes, with Azerbaijan to the south of the River.

Borhan-e-Qate (Completed 1632 AD): Aras (Araxes) defined as a river flowing past Tbilisi in Georgia and forming the boundary between Arran and Azerbaijan.  


Sassanian emperor, Shapur I (r. 241-270 AD), cited Albania and Media Atropatene as two separate provinces of the Persian Empire. Professor Mark Whittow’s map of Oxford University (see references – see also item 6) clearly shows the historically attested distinction between ancient Arran/Albania and the original Azerbaijan in Iran (see below):






Note how the Araxes River separates Arran from the historical Azerbaijan (in Iran). It is interesting that virtually no maps such as these are ever discussed by pan-Turanian activists (and their western supporters) seeking to incite anti-Persian sentiments among Iranian Azerbaijanis. Even less acknowledged is the strong Armenian presence in historical Albania/Arran, especially west of the River Kur/Kura.  


(b) The Musavats and the early Pan-Turanianists. The Islamic Democratic Musavat Party (IDMP) was established in the city of Baku in Arran in 1911 [vi] . Although nominally a pan-Islamic movement for the Caucasus, the IDMP was in fact a pan-Turanian movement with an Islamic flavour. The IDMP wanted to use Islam to target Turkish speakers of the Caucasus (Arran in particular) and Azerbaijan in Iran [vii] . In practice, the Musavats catered to the pan-Turanian elements of the Ottoman Empire [viii] who endeavoured to create a Turkish super-state stretching from Central Asia to the Aegean Sea [ix] .


The collapse of the Czarist Russian Empire by 1917 was the catalyst for the breaking away of many of Russia’s conquests of former Persian territory in the Caucasus. This resulted in the Musavats solidifying their ties to The Turkish Federalist Party in the Ottoman Empire by June 1917 [x] . By November 1917, the first Musavat congress was inaugurated in the Caucasus (Arran?), after which the party was renamed as the Turkish Democratic Musavat Party (TDMP) [xi] . The full tilt of the Musavat party to pan-Turanianism was now evident.


By April 22, 1918, a political coalition of Mensheviks (Georgians), Dashnakists (Armenians) and TDMP (Turkish speaking as well some non-Turkish Muslims from the Caucasus), officially proclaimed the inauguration of the Transcaucasian Federative Republic. However on 26 May 1918, the Republic was dissolved with the Georgian Mensheviks proclaiming their own republic on the same day, with the Armenian Dashnakists doing the same two days later. The TDMP met on May 27 1918 in Tbilisi and selected the name of “Azerbaijan”, rather than Albania or Arran, as the title of their new “Independent Republic of Azerbaijan” (IRA) [xii] . The main proponents of this name change were local Turkish and non-Turkish Muslim elites [xiii] as well as Ottoman pan-Turanian activists [xiv] , many of them Ottoman officers who had recently fought against the Russians in the Caucasus with success [xv] (see photo of Ottoman officers campaigning in the Caucasus in World War One – see Nicolle in references).





It is worth noting that Nuri Pashi, a brother of Enver Pasha, also volunteered and fought against the Imperial Russians in the Caucasus during the First World War.


The main objective of “borrowing” Azerbaijan’s name and applying it to Arran was to create the illusion of a formerly “united” Azerbaijan that was divided in two by Persia and Russia. As the majority of the inhabitants of Arran and Azerbaijan speak Turkish and have family ties in both regions, the fiction of an “independent state” that was “divided” rapidly gained hold in former Arran.


The pan-Turanian activists first applied the name of Iran’s Azerbaijan to a former Iranian province (Arran) then proposed to annex the real Azerbaijan (in Iran) into their newly born republic [xvi] . Even more amazing is how quickly the pan-Turanian ideologues of the Musavats began to believe their own propaganda. One example is Nasib Bey Ussubekov (a Musavat activist and one of the leaders of the republic in 1918) who made it clear that he regarded Iranian Azerbaijan as a part of the newly invented “Independent Republic of Azerbaijan”.


Czarist and Soviet Russia did much to advance the cause pan-Turanianism, a fact undoubtedly rejected by pan-Turanian and Russian scholars alike. Despite the fact that the Russians and Turks have fought several long and bloody wars against each other in history, the two powers have at times cooperated against Persia. This is noted by Professor Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh:


“The Russo-Ottoman agreement of 1724…conspired to dismemberIran after the fall of the Safavid Empire, and to divide its territories between the Russian and Ottoman Empires”

[Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh, Small Players of the Great Game, 2004, p.15].


Both powers were forced to evacuate Persia by Nader Shah Afshar (1688-1747) (see photo below – further discussion item 2c).





(c) The Soviet Russians & Joseph Stalin. The Independent Republic of Azerbaijan was dismantled and overthrown by Soviet Russian forces on April 28th, 1920, immediately after which Arran once again became a part of the Russian empire [xvii] . Interestingly, the Russians decided to retain the pan-Turanian invention for Arran, and began to refer to Arran as “The Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan”.


A quick study of rare historical archives reveals a very cynically self-serving (and an unintentionally pan-Turanian) Russian approach to the Arran affair:


“The name “Azerbaijan” for the Republic of Azerbaijan (Soviet Azerbaijan) was selected on the assumption that the stationing of such as republic would lead to that entity Iranian to become one…this is the reason why the name “Azerbaijan” was selected (for Arran)…anytime when it is necessary to select a name that refers to the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we should/can select the name Arran…”

Quote from Bartold, Soviet academic, politician and foreign office official. See Bartold, V.V., Sochineniia, Tom II, Chast I, Izdatelstvo Vostochnoi Literary, p.217, 1963. 


This was a brilliant geopolitical move, as it now allowed for Russia, like the Ottoman Turks before them, to eventually make a grab for Iranian Azerbaijan. It is very likely that Joseph (Iosef) Stalin (born Djugashvilii – his mother was Ossetian) (see photo below) was complicit in this action. Stalin deliberately and repeatedly referred to many famous Iranian literary figures (such as Nizami, Ganji, Shabestari, etc.) as “great national Azerbaijani literary figures”, with no mention of their association and origins in Persia.





Stalin’s tactic was to lump all historical figures and references from Arran and Azerbaijan as “Azerbaijanis”, pretending that these were never distinct provinces of Persia, and that neither had any cultural, linguistic or historical association with Persia.


Stalin specifically worked at removing pre-communist (Tsarist) archives that referred to the historical designations of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This included the Russian language “Russian Encyclopedia” (printed in 1890, St. Petersburg & Leipzig, Imperial Germany – see Matini, 1989, p.455 in References) which clearly distinguished Albania/Arran from Azerbaijan in Iran.


It was Stalin who encouraged the museums and maps of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan to refer to Azerbaijani cities in the Soviet Union and Iran as if they were one province. Stalin wanted no distinctions made between former Arran (Soviet Azerbaijan) and historical Azerbaijan (in Iran). He instructed his hand-picked historians (both in Soviet Azerbaijan and Russia) to revise the entire history of Arran and its association with Persia, and to blur Arran’s distinction from the historical Azerbaijan of Iran (recall the quote from Bartold we cited previously).


By 1937, Soviet “Anthropologists” formally coined the ethnic name of "Azeris" to the Albanians/Arranis. These were published as azerbaidzantsi in Russian and rapidly translated by the Soviets to azarbaycanli, in Turkish. Stalin’s historians were instructed to engage in the process of ethno-engineering in which invented terms were used to de-Persianize those ethnic groups of the USSR that had long-standing associations with the culture and history of Persia. This has resulted in generations of people in the Republic of Azerbaijan being indoctrinated with Stalinist propaganda and falsified history. Today, a large number of the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan believe that Iranian Azerbaijan, which they call “Guney (South) Azerbaijan“, is “occupied” by Iran, and must be “liberated” and “reunited” with the Republic of Azerbaijan.  These false distortions are being actively promoted among Iranian Azerbaijanis.


It is interesting that pan-Turanian activists view Russia as an enemy, when Russia, between 1920-1990, spent much of its time and resources promoting their cause by directly sponsoring false anti-Persian scholarship and propaganda, to the benefit of pan-Turanian philosophies. Stalin supported the writing of the “Vatan Dili” (The Language of our Motherland), which provided a pan-Turanian version of the history of “Greater Azerbaijan” (Arran and the historical Azerbaijan of Iran). The Vatan Dili was specifically written to excise all references of Iranian Azerbaijan’s historical associations with Persia (e.g. Moses of Dasxuranci’s “History of the Caucasian Albanians” – see references, and item 3 further below).


Soviet ethno-engineers went much further however. Their literally created at least twenty-four ethnic-territorial designations for numerous “nationalities” that had never existed before in history. Most of these new “nationalities” were Turkic (e.g. Buryatia, Yakutia, Kirgiziya). The Soviets administratively organized a mosaic of distinct Turkic regions in the USSR and virtually wrote (or invented) histories for each them them. These actions have been very helpful to pan-Turanian ideologues. Thanks to Soviet ethnic engineering, pan-Turanian ideologues can now point to “dozens of Turkish nations” that “must be united into a single Turan”. 


(d) Mr. Mohammad Amin Rasulzadeh. A leading proponent of Arran’s name change was Mohammad Amin Rasulzadeh (1884-1955), the first leader of the newly created Republic of Azerbaijan (see photo below). Rasulzadeh was of Iranian origin from Baku, and was in fact heavily involved in the constitutional democratic movement of Iran during the early 1900s [xviii] (see Sattar Khan in item 5).





Rasulzadeh was in fact the editor of the newspaper Iran-e-Now (The New Iran). Russian influence and coercion finally forced the Iranian government to expel Rasulzadeh from Iran in 1909 (?); he was exiled to Ottoman Turkey, where the Young Turk movement had gained power.


The Young Turk movement had a profound psychological influence on Rasulzadeh; he became ensnared in the embrace of pan-Turanianism. It is noteworthy that before his conversion to pan-Turaniasm, Rasulzadeh viewed himself and his native Arran (Albania) in his writings as members of “Our beloved homeland Iran [xix] . By 1913, the Turanisized Rasulzadeh returned to the Caucasus where he joined the Musavat Party and became its leader shortly thereafter.


Iranians in general and Azerbaijani activists in particular, opposed the new name for Arran (Albania). Azerbaijani political activist Shaikh Mohammad Khiyabani [xx] (photo below) suggested that Iranian Azerbaijan’s name be changed to “Azadistan” (Land of Freedom) as to distinguish this from the newly created Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan [xxi] . The usage of the term “Azerbaijan” for Arran was also protested by north Iranian (Gilan) activist, Mirza Kuchek Khan (1880-1921).






Rasulzadeh was to admit in 1924 to his former Iranian comrade, Sheikh Hassan Taqhizadeh (photo below – seated next to him is Seyyed Abolhassan Alavi) of Tabriz that he wished to do “whatever is in his power to avoid any further discontent among Iranians [xxii] and explicitly admitted that “Albania (present Republic of Azerbaijan) is different from Azerbaijan (the original Azerbaijan in Iran) [xxiii] . Taqhizadeh and Alavi were the publishers of the popular Kaveh newspaper, named after one of ancient Persia’s semi-mythical heroes.





By the 1930s, Rasulzadeh’s writings revealed his full conversion to pan-Turanianism:


(a) At first he admitted that “Azerbaijan” (Arran and Azerbaijan in Iran?) was an ancient Iranian province that had been linguistically Turcified since at least the 13th century.

(b) He then rejected his previous writings and declared that Azerbaijan (both Arran and Azerbaijan in Iran) had always been “Turkish” and was never historically an integral part of Persia [xxiv] .


Rasulzadeh had betrayed his Iranian heritage in two ways. First, he failed to fulfill his promises to Iranian Azerbaijanis to rectify the name change he had bought for Arran (at pan-Turanian behest). Second, Rasulzadeh adopted a false, divisive, and racist ideology. Rasulzadeh’s legacy continues to haunt the Caucasus and Iran to this day.  That legacy has also provided an excellent tool for geopolitical manipulation.


After his arrest and expulsion from Russia, Rasulzadeh settled in Turkey, where he died in 1954 (see his funeral in Turkey below). Rasulzadeh established the “Azerbaijan National Centre” in Turkey, a movement which at the time was organized for the purpose of opposing Soviet rule in Arran (modern Republic of Azerbaijan). 


Amin Funeral




(e) The role of Soviet Russia in 1941-1946. The notion of a “divided north Azerbaijan versus a south Azerbaijan” was first invented by Russian historians of the Stalinist Soviet era [xxv] . Russian troops were in fact occupying Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan as part of a joint occupation force with the British since 1941 (the Americans came soon after).


As the Tehran conference of November 29, 1943 was taking place, Stalin (seated below left, US President Roosevelt in centre, British Prime Minister Churchill at right), had already planned to set up his puppet republics in both Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. Even before Britain, Soviet Russia and the USA had signed the Tripartite Treaty, The US Secretary of State, Cordell Hull (1871-1955) had expressed his concern for Soviet assistance for separatist movements within northern Iran - the United States viewed this as alarming at the time (see Hull in References).


Tehran Conference



Jafar Pishevari (????-1947) led the separatist “Azerbaijan Autonomous Republic” (see photo at left) and Qazi Mohammad (1913-1946) (see photo at right) the Kurdish “Republic of Mahabad” during 1945-1946. Both movements were dependent on the Soviet Union, and collapsed almost immediately after the Soviet withdrawal in 1946. What is very interesting is that no pan-Turanian activist (see Chehreganli in item 5a) make few (if any) references to the fact that both Pishevari and Mohammad’s movements occurred in areas under direct Russian occupation.  



PishevariQazi Mohammed]


Note the exact similarity of the uniforms of the Kurdish “martyrs” to the Russian uniforms of the period. Below is a photo of Kurdish “martyrs” of the Soviet-supported Mahabad Republic – compare these to the field cap and uniform (note shoulder epaulettes) of General Georgi Zhukov (1896-1974) (immediately below the “martyrs” photo):






Note again the exact similarity of the uniforms of the “Azerbaijan Feda-iyan” led by Gholam Yahya Daneshiyan (see photo at left – Daneshiyan stands at right) to the Russian uniforms of the period. Below right is a reconstruction of Russian officers in Berlin in 1945; by author Steven Zaloga and history illustrator Ron Volstad (see references for details):


Gholam Yahya





Despite the photo’s poor quality, Gholam Yahya’s uniform is clearly that of a Junior Lieutenant of the Russian red Army; the two men standing next to Yahya wear the uniforms and caps of Soviet NKVD officers (Red Army political/intelligence officers).


Pan-Azeri separatists also fail to explain why the Pishevari government collapsed so quickly as Tehran marched in to reclaim its authority. The Russians, who had been forced by International pressure (mainly US president Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) – see photo below) to end their occupation of Northern Persia, had left Pishevari with a large amount of ammunition and automatic weapons – they had also turned over to Pishevari much of the heavy equipment they had captured earlier in 1941 from the Iranian army.





Even as Russia reluctantly vacated Iran, she bought Communist activists from a number of nations (e.g. Anti-Athens Greek Communists) [xxvi] into Azerbaijan to fight for Pishevari. This was mainly due to concerns that the vast majority of Azerbaijanis viewed Pishevari as a Russian stooge and puppet, and would not fight for him. As their forces rapidly dissolved, Pishevari and his followers fled to the USSR. In Tabriz, capital of Iranian Azerbaijan, huge crowds celebrated the departure of Pishevari and his Russian supporters. These facts are corroborated in excerpts by the aforementioned Iranian Azerbaijani professor, Touraj Atabaki:  


“What appears to have been much more crucial than “Western pressure”…in bringing about the downfall of the Azerbaijani Democrats was the lack of popular (Azerbaijani) support they had to cope…the speed with which their regime (Pishevari) collapsed … the virtual absence of any form of popular armed resistance to the central government’s troops…” (p.176).

[Touraj Atabaki, Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran. Published I.B. Taurus Publishers, 2000] 


Even as he was rejected by the very Azerbaijani people he so passionately advocated, Mr. Pishevari continued his fantasy of partitioning Iran as he sat in Baku. It was after his ejection from Iran, that Pishevari formalized the myth of a “north” and “south” Azerbaijan (the idea had already been toyed with by Soviet historians since the 1920s). As noted previously, “North” means the Republic of Azerbaijan (former Arran) and “South” is the historical Azerbaijan of Iran.


There are now vigorous attempts by pan-Turanian activists and their western sympathizers to virtually ignore any link between Mr. Pishevari and Communist Russian support for his cause. In the Republic of Azerbaijan for example, Pishevari is officially presented as a hero “fighting to liberate the Azeri Turks from the racist Persians”. Sadly, there are now a number of naïve Iranian Azerbaijanis who officially celebrate Pishevari’s birthday. It would seem that time and historical revisionism has transformed Mr. Pishevari from Soviet collaborator to legend.


Archival research again reveals a less flattering image of Mr. Pishevari: a man with an openly servile attitude towards his Kremlin masters. Note Mr. Pishevari’s telegram to Mr. Mir Jaafar Bagherov, First Secretary of the Communist Party and Stalin's hand-picked man in Soviet Azerbaijan:


“Dear and Kind Father Mir Jaafar Bagherov,

The people of “south” Azerbaijan who are, beyond any doubt, a part of “north” Azerbaijan, like all peoples of the world, have eyed their hopes on the great people of the Soviet Union and the government of the Soviet Union.”

As published in the Azerbaijan Newspaper, No. 213, Azar 1329 (Iranian chronology), p.224, in Baku, The Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. This is cited by Jalal Matini, Azerbaijan Koja Ast? [Where is Azerbaijan?]. Iranshenasi, Volume I, No.3, 1989b, p.458.

Note photo below of Mr. Pishevari in Baku with the Soviet sponsored Azerbaijan Newspaper:


Pishevari Baku



The government of the Soviet Union”? The politically embarrassing Bagherov telegram reveals that Mr. Pishevari was still dreaming of “heroically” re-entering Iran – riding on the back of Soviet tanks of course. Thanks to massive funding and propaganda efforts, some misinformed Azerbaijanis are unaware of this information. The fact remains that Mr. Pishevari was a stooge of Mr. Joseph Stalin and his cronies in Moscow.


It is truly sad to see how misguided Mr. Pishevari was. The story of his demise however is even more tragic and is being hidden from public knowledge. “Official” Soviet history has it that Mr. Pishevari died in hospital and/or as a result of a car accident in Baku. The real history may be different however.


Although many of those details remain classified, a Georgian immigrant whose family had ties to the former Soviet regime (who has asked not be identified), noted that during his stay in Baku, Mr. Pishevari began to express doubts as to the wisdom of his actions and even felt that he had betrayed his nation, Iran. The fear of Pishevari “coming out” led Bagherov to quickly eliminate Pishevari before he made any embarrassing public statements. He may either have been suffocated with a pillow or died in his car as a result of deliberate mechanical tampering. These details cannot be independently verified and most likely the entire truth of these final tragic events will never be known.  


One of Stalin’s aims was to use his occupation as leverage to force oil concessions from the Iranian government at the time. Interestingly, a number of declassified documents suggest that the British were sympathetic to the Russians annexing Northern Persia. The British thought that they should “share” Persia’s oil with the Russians. As noted by Professor Louis:


There was a powerful current of (British) Foreign Office thought…that Anglo-Soviet relations could be improved if it could be demonstrated to the Russians that the British did not intend to corner all of the Persian oil resources

[Louis, Wm., R., The British Empire in the Middle East, 1984, p.57]


Note the following statement made by the British Head of the Northern Department of the Foreign Office, Mr. C.F.A. Warner, at the height of the Pishevari crisis, where he suggested that the British:


“…look at the problem from the long-term angle of Anglo-Soviet relations rather than from the point of view of the feckless Persians”.

[Louis, Wm., R., The British Empire in the Middle East, 1984, p.58]


NOTE: Feckless generally means having no effect or importance, lacking purpose or vitality, feeble or ineffective, careless and irresponsible.


Pishevari was in fact trying to convert regional economic grievances into a full blown separatist movement – with Russian support. This is very similar to what is happening today with the geopolitically sponsored movements such as the United Azerbaijan Movement who endeavour at creating separatism based on local (mainly economic) grievances and linguistic differences (item 5a).


(2) Azerbaijanis have spoken Turkish since the advent of History.


(a) Archival Information.


Once again, historical archives contradict pan-Turanian ideology. Note the following example:


Al-Istakhri (10th Century AD): Cites people of Azerbaijan speaking both Persian and Arabic (as would have been the case in the entire Persian realm stretching to Central Asia at the time of the Caliphates). The Arranis are mentioned as speaking a different dialect, called “Arrani” which was different from that spoken by the Azerbaijanis.


The notion of Azerbaijanis as never having been part of the Persian nation linguistically and historically is again dramatically contradicted by:


Al-Masudi (10th Century AD): Reported Persians as “a people whose borders are the Mahat Mountains and Azerbaijan up to Armenia and Arran, and Baylaqan up to Darband (in the Caucaus), and Rayy and Tabaristan amd Masqat and Shabaran and Jorgan (Gorgan) and Abarshahr, and that is Nishabur, and Heart and Merv and other places in the land of Khorassan, and Sejistan and Kerman and Fars and Ahvaz…all these lands were one kingdom with one sovereign and one language…the language differed slightly…such as Pahlavi, Dari, Azeri, as well as other Persian languages.”


The Arrani dialect mentioned by Al-Istakhri was most likely a transitional post-Pahlavi language (like modern Kurdish), however it may have been a derivative of a North Iranian language, such as Ossetian.  Azeri was a Pahalvi based Iranian dialect, and there are unconfirmed reports of a certain “Fahlavi” dialect that is still spoken in isolated pockets in Azerbaijan. Most Iranian dialects were displaced by the migration of Oghuzz Turkic speaking arrivals to Arran and Azerbaijan from Central Asia, from and after the 11th century. 


(b) The Turkic arrivals & Manzikert. Pockets of Turkish arrivals to Arran and Azerbaijan are recorded in 1029 and 1044, however it was in 1054 when the Seljuk Turk warrior chief, Tughrul Beg, arrived to and received the submission of the local Iranian rulers of Arran and Azerbaijan. The local Iranian dialects, Azeri in particular, were gradually replaced by a Turkic language of the southwest family (Oghuzz). It was Alp Arslan (1029-72) who established the Seljuk dominion over much of Anatolia, Persia and Mesopotamia and ensured the legacy of the Turkish language in Azerbaijan and Arran. Byzantine Emperor Romanus Diogenes IV met Alp Arslan in the Battle at Manzikert and was defeated and captured by the Seljuks on August 19 or 26, 1071. A key element in the defeat of the Greeks was the act of betrayal by Andronicus Ducas, the commander of Romanus’ rearguard. At a crucial moment in the battle, Ducas simply retired to Constantinople (modern Istanbul), apparently in a short-sighted and self-serving attempt at enhancing his own political position.


The Manzikert battle, and Alp Arslan’s victory was of immense consequence:

[a] It was a major factor leading to the crusades,

[b] The downfall of Constantinople in 1453

[c] Expansion of subsequent (Ottoman) Turkish power into Central Europe by the 1600s

[d] It ensured the survival of Turkish as the main vernacular in Azerbaijan and Arran


(c) Linguistic Turkification. The process of linguistic Turkification was reinforced with the arrival of the Mongols in the 1200s, and their Il-Khanid dynasty in Persia. Tamerlane’s descendants, the Qara/Kara-Qoyunlu (Black Sheep) and Ak/Aq-Qoyunlu (White Sheep) also ruled Iran. It must be noted that the Turkish migrants became absorbed into mainstream Persia, and they greatly patronized Persian, arts, culture and literature. Turks as whole have been tremendously influenced by Iranian culture – a prime example is the Moghul Dynasty of India, of Turkmen-Mongol descent. The Moghuls promoted Persian culture in India, a legacy which lasts to this day in modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. 


By the early 16th century (see Safavids item 4), Azerbaijani Turkish had largely replaced the indigenous Iranian Azeri in Azerbaijan and had also spread to Arran. The Turkish language however, did not alter the thousands year long Iranian character and legacy of Arran and Azerbaijan. As noted in item 4, the Safavid dynasty, whose members spoke Turkish in court and introduced much Turkish vocabulary to Iran, considered themselves as the heirs of Persia and bitterly fought the Ottoman Turks throughout their reign.


In Persia, identity has never been delineated by singular, simplistic and narrow concepts such as “race”, “mother language” or even “religion”. Consider the following examples:


The Buyid dynasty (945-1055 AD), hailed from the Daylamites of Northern Persia who spoke a post-Sassanian Pahlavi dialect. Note illustration of a Dailamite female governess/warrior of Rayy (near modern Tehran):


Banu of Rayy




The aforementioned Nader Shah was an ethnic Turcomen and adhered to the Sunni branch of Islam. Karim Khan Zand (1705-1779) (see illustration below) and his partisans spoke Luri, a west Iranian language distinct from Persian and Kurdish. The Zands (like Nader Shah before them) were essential in preserving Persia’s territorial integrity after the fall of the Safavids.





(d) Resistance against Ottoman Turks. The bitter legacy of Ottoman attempts to annex Azerbaijan and Arran, and to dismember Iran, has been long remembered by the Azerbaijanis, who virtually always stood as Persia’s front line against Ottoman expansionism. Note the following observation by Professor Atabaki:


The well-established Ottoman policy of military expansion into Azerbaijan…goes a long way in explaining the hostile Azerbaijani attitude towards what came to be the modern Republic of Turkey

[Touraj Atabaki, 2000, p.11]


Pan-Turanian ideologues are attempting to change this history as well. Simply put, they are perpetuating (yet another) fraudulent view that Azerbaijanis and Ottoman Turks have been friendly allies ever since the foundation of the Ottoman Empire. This is as absurd as trying to pretend that Russia and Germany were close allies during World War One (1914-1918) and World War Two (1941-1945).


The Safavids (Azerbaijanis), Nader Shah Afshar (Turcomen) and Karim Khan Zand (Lur) all considered themselves to be the heirs of the ancient Persian realm. It is truly ironic to see pan-Turanian ideologues claiming the Safavids and Afsharids (among others) as “ethnic Turks”, as it was these who formed a major factor in resisting the Ottoman Empire and defeating its attempts to annex Persia.


(e) World War One. Pan-Turanian ideologues have been deluding themsleves about the history of the Perso-Ottoman wars ever since the foundation of the Young Turk movement (and perhaps earlier). When Iran was in virtual chaos during and after World War One, the Ottomans simply marched into Iran’s Azerbaijan province, believing they could easily create another “Musavat” style pan-Turanian movement. Their flawed sense of history (and reality) resulted in an abysmal failure:


Contrary to their expectations, the achievements of pan-Turkists in Azerbaijan during and immediately after World War One were not very impressive. Although the province was occupied by Ottoman troops, their attempts to create a solid base of support among Azerbaijanis ended in failuredid not succeed in facilitating Azerbaijani-Ottoman relations…arrest popular leaders Khiyabani and Nowbari and sent them into exile…what they (the Ottomans) did resulted in whipping up anti-Ottoman sentiment

[Touraj Atabaki, 2000, p.11 – see References]


Very little is known about Ottoman military activities in Iran during World War One. The Ottomans had in fact built three airbases in Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan – note the air base in Baku as well (see map below of Ottoman bases in Iran and Baku – Nicolle in references):


Turk Base



There are three ways in which pan-Turanian ideologues are re-writing this particular saga of history:


[a] They state that there was no forceful occupation of Iran’s Azerbaijan

[b] That the Azerbaijani’s welcomed the Ottoman occupiers

[c] Khiyabani (item 1a) was a pan-Turanian seperatist and an ally of the Ottomans (see item 5a).


As with nearly all of their assertions, pan-Turanian statements diverge from historical veracity to the extreme.


(3) Turks have been in the Caucasus for over 5000 Years.


This is a relatively new claim, apparently first made in the late 1970s. Pan-Turanian activists claim to have proof that the Turks have the oldest, most influential and deeply rooted influence in the Caucasus. Simply put, pan-Turanian ideology now claims not only Iranian Azerbaijan, but the entire Caucasus (Armenia, The Republic of Georgia, The Republic of Azerbaijan, Daghestan, Chechniya, and other autonomous regions). The Turkish legacy is claimed to date back to at least 5000 years.


This is at best, a grandiose exaggeration. The real influence of the Turks begins with the Seljuks and Ottomans, and even then, the Turks are only one more layer upon an ancient region that has seen a rich and varied legacy. If anything, it is the Persian and (to a lesser extent), the Greco-Roman legacies that remain in the Caucasus. The Turks, like the Russians and Ukrainians certainly have their legacy in the Caucasus. The issue in question is the exaggeration of the Turkish role, now proposed by pan-Turanian ideologues.


The Caucasus is one of the oldest cradles of human civilization – a prime example being the proto-Kartvelian Hurrian empire (2500-1270 BC) which at one time ruled much of northwest Iran and contemporary Kurdistan. The Hurrian legacy is still evident among the Kurds who use the ergative feature in their speech – a phenomenon seen in modern Georgian. While the Caucasus has certainly seen its share of Persian, Greek, Turkish and Russian influence, she has in turn vigorously and profoundly influenced all of these cultures in turn.  


(a) Armenia, Georgia, Albania/Arran (see and Adontz, Blockley, Chamich, Farrokh, Garosian, Grousset, Lang, Moses of Dasxuranci, Oberling, Razhdan, Russell, Whittow in references). Archival records, anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics fail to substantiate pan-Turanian ideology. The aforementioned Professor Whittow has concluded that:


The oldest outside influence in Trans-Caucasia is that of Persia (p.203)…many of its populations, including Armenians and Georgians, as well as Persians and Kurds, the Transcaucasus had much closer ties with the former Sassanian world to its south and east than with the world to the west (p.204)”.

[Whittow, Mark, The Making of Byzantium: 600-1025, Berkley: University of California Press, p. 203-204].


Understandably, objective information about any Persian legacy in the Caucasus is viewed as threatening to pan-Turanian activists and their geopolitical and petroleum supporters in the west (see Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmain’s observations in Part VI, item 8).


With regards to Armenia, pan-Turanian nationalists are terse and strikingly clear:


"Armenia is a fictitious state created on Azerbaijani land ..."

(Excerpted from the late Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, "Decree of the President of Azerbaijan on the Genocide of the Azerbaijanis." 26 March 1998)


It is very shocking to have a head of state refer to a neighboring nation in such a dismissive manner. Armenians are perhaps one of the world’s most ancient and inventive people’s of history. Simply put, the late President’s assessment widely diverges from reality. Armenians are now understood to have been derived from the post-Hittite Phyrgian migrations that originated in the Balkans (they migrated across the Aegean and Anatolia to reach the Caucasus). They predate the arrival of any Turkic or Mongol people in the Caucasus by thousands of years. (See Bishop Ukhtanes of Sebasteia in references)


Armenians are perhaps one of the oldest surviving Indo-European peoples and may trace their origins to the ancient Phrygians who migrated from the Balkans into Anatolia, eventually taking residence in historical Armenia. They have no anthropological, linguistic or cultural links to Central Asian Turkic peoples (see item 7 below).


The Armenian connection to Persia is as old as the Persian Empire itself, and some would argue even earlier, to the time of the Medes.


From the mid 6th century to the late 4th century BC Armenia and much of Georgia were a part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (559-333 BC). The independent Armenian kingdom was ruled by an Iranian dynasty, which was a branch of the royal house of Parthia in Persia.


The Iberian kingdom (The Kartli – the eastern half of modern Georgia) had Persian ruling classes up to the 6th century AD. Armenians, Georgians and Albanians/Arranis adopted much of Persia’s aristocratic ways, arts, music, dress, dance, literature, and culture (see Frye 1984, and Ghirshman in references). Persian words are still prevalent in modern Georgian (e.g. Panjera-“window”) and Armenian (e.g. Khoda-“God”). Armenian has so many Iranian loan words that linguists incorrectly viewed it as an Iranian language for years. Even with the spread of Christianity across the western Caucasus and with it, increasing Greco-Roman influence, Persian and Zoroastrian traditions continued to endure.


The Armenian term for nobility – “Naxarar” – is of Persian (Sassanian?) origin. Armenian warriors were so highly regarded by the Sassanians that they were allowed to wear the emblems and regalia of the “Savaran”, Sassanian Persia’s elite cavalry. When the Gok (Celestial/blue) Turks and their Hephthalite allies attempted to invade Sassanian Persia from Central Asia in 619 AD, it was Smbat Bargratuni (see depiction by Angus McBride below – Farrokh in references), a Sassanian general of Armenian origin who conclusively defeated their forces:





Equally important are Armenian links to the Greco-Roman Byzantine Empire. Many historical Byzantine figures of note may have had Armenian ancestry. These may include Leo V (ruled 813-820), Basil I (ruled 867-886), John Tzimiskes (ruled 969-976), and perhaps the wife of Emperor Theophilos, Empress Theodora who is reputed to have restored orthodoxy in 843 AD. When examining Byzantine seals and records, a very large number of Armenian names are evident – examples include Bardas-Bardanes (related to Persian “Bardia”), Arsabir, Artabasdos (related to Persian “Arta”) and Symbatios. Significantly, a very large number of officers in the Byzantine armies were of Armenian origin (e.g. Narses).


One reference that has been almost totally removed from the Republic of Azerbaijan by both Soviet and pan-Turanian activists is Moses of Dasxuranci’s History of the Caucasian Albanians (see References). Originally written in the 10th century AD, this book also reproduced older manuscripts as well. Dasxuranci has made the connection of the Albanians/Arranis to Persia absolutely clear. An example of this is the description of the Sepahbod (Marshall) of Albania and his officers who fought at the Battle of Qadissiyah in 637 AD (see Dowsett’s translation of Dasxuranci, p.110-113), in which the Arabs emerged victorious. Not surprisingly, few of the educated elites in the Republic of Azerbaijan have even heard of Moses of Dasxuranci.


Byzantine records make no reference to any Turkic origins with respect to Armenia, Georgia and Albania/Arran. Instead, as noted previously, the only outside cultural influences in the Caucasus are those of the Persians followed by the Greeks.


Turkic peoples appear as invaders from the Central Asian Steppes which they had also conquered from their original homeland in Eastern Mongolia. One of the earliest Turkic arrivals appears to the north of the Caucasus: the Khazars who converted to Judaism. Byzantine and Armenian sources make no mention of any of the Turkic arrivals being indigenous to the Caucasus, Northern Iran or Anatolia. In almost every case, they came as warrior-invaders and introduced their language on the majority non-Turkic populations of Arran/Albania, the historical Azerbaijan (in Iran), as well as Anatolia.


The onset of powerful Turkish influence can be traced to the Ottoman Empire and its wars with the Safavid Empire in Persia (see item 5 further below). Despite centuries of warfare between the Ottomans and the Safavids (followed by the Afsharids), the legacy of Persian cultural influence continued unabated. Georgian and Armenian figures continued to rank prominently in Medieval Persian affairs. Examples include:


  • Zaynab Begom queen of Shah Tahmasp
  • Allahverdi Khan who was commander of the Safavid Army between 1595-1613)
  • Khosrow Mirza (Rostam Khan) one of the most important Safavid officials
  • Constantin Mirza, son of Georgian king Alexander, sent to govern Fars province


It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of prominent Armenians and Georgians, however, the point has hopefully been made to the interested reader.


It was only after the wars of Imperial Czarist Russia that Persia was permanently pushed out of the Caucasus, except for Azerbaijan and Talysh. The Treaties of Golestan (1813) and Turkemenchai (1827) compelled Persia to accede to Russia’s conquests in the Caucasus.


(4) The Safavid Empire was Turkish. 


Ever since his brief tenure as president of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1991-1993, Abulfazl Elchibey (1938-2000) (see photo below) was vehemently anti-Persian and openly called for the partitioning of Iran (see Hiro in References).





Note some of the excerpts of his speech at the V Congress [Kurultai] of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, 30-31 January 1998 delivered in Turkey:


“The creation of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in the Northern Azerbaijan on some of Azerbaijani lands in 1918-1921, and its restoration…in 1991, does not mean that the Azerbaijan national liberation movement is over. … The new stage will end with the creation and or restoration of a united Azerbaijani statehood. … Already [in Iran] there are active organizations, whose sole purpose is the state independence of the Azeri Turks.”


Dr. Elchibey has conveniently neglected to mention how Arran was re-named as “Azerbaijan” by pan-Turanian nationalists and that the real Azerbaijan is situated in Iran today (as noted in Item 1). Elchibey’s claims of the “restoration of a united Azerbaijani statehood” is void of any historical basis or veracity for the simple reason that no such state has ever existed.


Dr. Elchibey based much of his ideology on his re-invention of the Safavids of Persia as an exclusively Turkish dynasty. He had been a history professor in Baku during the communist era and had been jailed for years by the Soviets.


Elchibey was barred from teaching upon his release. He then turned to archival and records research, and here is where one may raise a few questions. As an archival researcher, what went through Elchibey’s mind as he observed the pre-1918 maps showing Arran, its association with Persia and the history of the Safavid Empire? Perhaps he never saw them, as the Soviets had already spent over 70 years expunging archives, re-writing history books and falsifying information in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Dr. Elchibey’s mind was as much a victim of fabricated information as it was of his own Chauvinism.  


In an almost bizarre act of publicity, Elchibey made a public spectacle of hanging a portrait of Shah Ismail (ruled 1501-1524), the founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736) in his home (see a European portrait of Shah Ismail below).





This was an attempt to “prove” that the Safavids were anti-Persian Turks and a Turkish empire. Note how the portrait contradicts Elchibey. The partially visible Latin lettering states Ismail as the king (note the term “Rex”) of Persia (note the “Per” is evident on the top right side of this partial photo). Elchibey must have seen this portrait during his long tenure as a professor and archivist. From the viewpoint of a cognitive psychologist an interesting question can be asked: how did Elchibey’s mind work at accommodating information that contradicted his ideology? Cognitive dissonance.


More importantly, Elchibey’s ideology runs contrary to the historical fact that the Safavids endeavoured to recreate the Persian Empire and their boundaries corresponded to ancient Persia (see map of Sassanian Persia at its maximum extent in 610 AD (below left) and a map of Safavid Persia (below right) at the eve of the Battle of Caldiran (before Ottoman Sultan Selim’s successful attack) in 1514 AD.



SafavidMap [Pic 60-SassMap



While true that by the time of the Safavids, Turkish had become prevalent in Iranian Azerbaijan and Arran, the Safavids were vehemently anti-Ottoman. Elchibey conveniently forgot to mention that the Ottoman Turks fought Ismail at Chaldiran (1514).and forcibly occupied much of western and Northern Persia and the Caucasus before being militarily expelled by Shah Abbas the Great (1587-1629) (see photo below – see Custos in references) in 1603.  Also neglected is the fact that Safavid Persia and Europe were allies against the Ottoman Turks for centuries. A dramatic example of this is the role of the English engineer/adventurers, known as the Sherley brothers who helped Shah Abbas create an indigenous musket and cannon industry to fight the formidable Ottomans. Shah Abbas’ personal bodyguard were recruited from the Armenians and the Georgians of the Caucasus (recall item 3a).






Note the clear inscription “Shach Abas Persarum Rex” – Shah Abbas, King/ Sovereign of Persia. The copper engraving shown above of Shah Abbas, made by Dominicus Custos lists him among the Atrium of the heroic “Caesars” of history – in reference to his victories over the Ottomans. Custos makes a particular emphasis on linking Shah Abbas to the “Mnemona Cyrus” (the Memory of Cyrus the Great of Persia).  The Safavids regarded themselves as the heirs of the Persian Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC), as corroborated by European sources (see Matini 1992 in References).


Pan-Turanian activists (and a number of western academics) are engaged in Herculean efforts to expunge this information and suppress these historical archives from Iranian Azerbaijanis. Instead they rationalize the wars of Shah Ismail and Abbas as “wars between Turkish brothers based on religion (Sunni versus Shiite)”. Fraudulent terms such as “The great Turkish-Azeri Empire” are also being invented to push the pan-Turanian agenda forward. All of these attempts at outright falsification ignore the following: 


(a) Why did the Safavids fight in the name of Persia?

(b) Why did Shah Abbas decide to make Isfahan the capital of Persia in 1598?

(c) Why was Persian architecture, music, literature and the arts so actively promoted?

(d) Why did the Safavids so strongly insist on Shiism versus Sunnism to distinguish themselves from the Sultans of Istanbul?


Incredibly, Pan-Turanian activists have explained these events as “mistakes”. As the gentle reader, you may wish to contemplate what “mistakes” these actually signify. But it is here where we run into further historical ironies. The Ottoman Turks were themselves great patrons of Persian literature and the Turkish Sultans wrote and spoke Persian very well. Sultan Selim “Yavuz” (The Grim) (1465-1520) (see photo below) wrote in Persian to his archenemy, Shah Ismail, even as Ismail wrote back to him in Turkish!







Elchibey also failed to mention that Ismail was in fact Kurdish, and was an adherent of the ancient Sufi cults of western and northern Persia. Ismail followed the teachings of Sheik Gilani in Northern Persia (see photo of Gilani’s shrine in northern Persia below – see Tarverdi in references). Many Kurds in Iraq and Turkey (as well as Turkish Alevis) follow Gilani’s teachings today and view Ismail as an enlightened Avatar. Ismail also claimed to be a descendant of the Royal house of the Sassanian Empire (224-651 AD). 





Elchibey represented the final evolution of a racist philosopher, one who projects imagined events into a history that never existed, and one who is able to rationalize and believe what his thinking process produces.


Despite their high level of university education, many pan-Turanian activists (such as the late Abulfazl Elchibey), are virtually immune to scholastic or logical explanations that contradict their beliefs. Their cognitive dissonance leads to reinterpret what is historically true as False and what is False as truth. The same cognitive process is true of Western European Nordicists/racial chauvinists, pan-Kurdish nationalists, Persian chauvinists, and Religious fundamentalists.


Elchibey went to his grave believing the rhetoric of the Grey Wolves and fleeing any suggestion that Arran ever existed or (heaven forbid) had any association with Persia. This is a real tragedy as Elchibey was known for his piety, incorruptibility, honesty and personal kindness. It is unfortunate that his thinking process led him to have such a profound hatred of Armenians and Iranians, peoples with whom Azerbaijanis as a whole, enjoy rich historical, anthropological and cultural links.


Less reported is the fact that after his overthrow by Heidar Aliev (1923-2003) (below left photo), Tansu Ciller (Turkish Prime Minister 1993-1996, below centre photo) was implicated in a failed coup to reinstall Elchibey in Baku. This act resulted in a furious scandal in Turkey, and Ciller’s fanatic pro-Grey Wolf leanings (not to mention a select group of Turkish officers, who were complicit in the affair) were now more openly exposed to the Turkish public. It was Suleiman Demirel (below right photo) who tipped off the Baku government to the attempted coup. 


AlievCiller Demirel


It must be noted that Demirel has been on record several times noting that Iran and Turkey have much to gain by directly and constructively co-operating and working together (rather than against each other) in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Near East. He is among many Turks who realize that Iranians and Turks have had a long history of admixture and cultural exchanges. Tragically, it would appear that people like Tansu Ciller and the Grey Wolves have a somewhat different view.


(5) Sattar Khan was a pan-Turanian separatist.


(a) Mr. Mahmudali Chereganli.


Mr. Chehreganli (see photo below) has made a career at attempting to incite hatred among Iranian Azerbaijanis against Iran. He portrays Azerbaijanis as “Turks oppressed by Persians”, and has been a major force in the fraudulent re-narration of Babak Khorramdin’s rebellion as an “anti-Persian” movement (see item 6). Chehreganli leads a movement entitled SANAM (South Azerbaijan National Awakening Movement) (Kindly see Website References).





There is a parallel movement residing in Baku (allegedly set-up by Azerbaijanis of Iranian origin) known as the UAM (United Azerbaijan Movement). There is also the South Azerbaijan National Liberation Movement as well as the Azerbaijan National Front (AZNF). It is SANAM however that has received the greatest western support (see also Part VI).


Mr. Chehreganli’s SANAM website is replete with false, simplistic and inflammatory information. The distortions begin with the personal dossier of Chehreganli, the chairman of SANAM (Persian section of SANAM website – see Web References):


Mahmudali Chehregani – Chehreganli – was born in the village of Chehregan…His grandfather Sattar Khan Chehreganli was an intellectual who participated in three Azerbaijani revolutions: the constitutional movement, the Azadistan movement, and the national and people’s government…he completed his Doctorate in linguistics at Tehran’s Tarbiat Modarress University…


The few highlighted lines are replete with fraudulent information. First, Mr. Chehreganli is claiming one of Iran’s greatest heroes, Sattar khan (1868-1914) (see photo below) as his ancestor, because both share the name Chehreganli.


Sattar Khan




People who share the same last name are not necessarily related. In that case, all who bear the surname “Smith” are members of the same family. Another detail not mentioned in SANAM: Sattar Khan was born in Janali, not Chehregan.


The issue of kinship is irrelevant. Even if we accept that Mr. Chehreganli has legitimately “proven” his lineage to Sattar Khan, he still cannot change the history of his (alleged) grandfather who fought in the name of a united Persia (see “Sattar Khan” below). Mr. Chehreganli has re-narrated Sattar Khan as an Azerbaijani separatist and “a Turkish patriot”. Sheikh Khiyabani (recall item 1d) has also been re-invented as a separatist. Historical archives contradict Mr. Chehreganli. 


While true that Khiyabani was strongly in favour of local autonomy for Azerbaijan, he was clear that we wished to do so within the framework of a united Iran. A sample of foreign archives states that he:


…had no desire or intention of severing Azerbaijan from Iran

[British Foreign Office Archives 371/1278, 11-12 September, 1920 – also cited by Atabaki, 2000, p.50, 205]


Chehreganli claims that Khiyabani’s term “Azadistan” (land of freedom), and his pursuit of autonomy is clear proof of Khiyabani’s separatist objectives. This is patently false, and is a distorted interpretation of actual historical events. First, as recounted in item 1d, Khiyabani was against the Musavat-Rasulzadeh re-invention of Arran/Albania as “Azerbaijan. The term “Azadistan” was an attempt to disassociate from the actions of Rasulzadeh and his supporters in Baku. Second, there is a very large difference between seeking local autonomy within a sovereign state and being a pan-Turanian separatist.


The real nature of Mr. Pishvari’s “national and people’s government” has already been recounted in item 1e.  Suffice it so say that Mr. Chehreganli has a talent for blurring facts and re-inventing them within his fictional narratives.


There are other puzzling inaccuracies in the SANAM website, namely the chronology of Sattar Khan’s career. Simply put, it would have been physically impossible for Sattar Khan to have “participated” in the “Azadistan” and Pishvari movements - Sattar Khan had already passed away before their onset.


What is most interesting is Mr. Chehreganli’s background and adoption of pan-Turanianism as a professional career. It is true that Mr. Chehreganli was a student at Tarbiat Modarress University. In reality, his academic performance was less than spectacular; he never achieved the graduate credentials necessary to become a Doctoral candidate. With his career options narrowing as a result of academic mediocrity, Mr. Chehreganli “discovered” separatist ethnic politics. His first “demand” was to exhume his “grandfather’s remains” (meaning Sattar Khan) from Tehran’s Shah Abdul Azim cemetery and “return it to his homeland” (meaning a separate Azerbaijan from Iran). Mr. Chehreganli had found his calling at last: a failed academic whose career was to promote misinformation and alienation.


Fact or fiction, the next series of events are as entertaining as a Hollywood screenplay. Mr. Chehreganli ran for Iran’s parliament and claimed to have obtained “800,000 votes”. This claim is not only unverifiable, but suspect (see Part III - items 2-3).  He then claims that he was arrested and tortured because of his “advocacy” for the rights of his “race”. Whatever the truth, Chehreganli was released from jail and left Iran. He travelled to Baku where he was awarded an honorary Doctoral degree in recognition of his anti-Iran political platform.


Western outlets regularly refer to Mr. Chereganli as a “Professor of linguistics” when in fact his academic training in the field is suspect at best. As far as can be determined, Mr. Chehreganli has never produced a credible dissertation. Nevertheless, his nominal “expertise” is being cynically trumpeted to project a mirage of academic authority. These “academic credentials” are being used by western geopolitical interests to further their economic (i.e. Petroleum) objectives (Part VI).


(b) Sattar Khan & the Constitutional Movement of Persia.


The actual history of Sattar Khan is different from what Mr. Chehreganli is stating. Sattar Khan was a legendary hero of the constitutional revolution of Iran (1905-1911), which was virtually the first of its type in western Asia and the Caucasus. To this day, Iranians of all stripes refer to him as the “Sardar-e-Melli” (The national Champion-leader).


The complete narrative of the Constitutional Movement is beyond the scope of the discussion here, however a few points may be highlighted, especially with respect to points being re-narrated by Mr. Chehreganli.


[b1] Qajar monarch Muzaffar al-Din Shah (1853 - 1907) (see photo below) agreed to a constitutional monarchy for Persia in August 1906.




Muzaffar al-Din -Shah




[b2] The first Tehran Assembly or Majlis (1906-1908) managed to limit the powers of the Shah and his ministers. Among its many reforms was the freedom of the press. Below is a photo of the building where the first Majlis was convened.





[b3] Muhammad Ali Shah (18721925; ruled 1906-1909) (photo below) moves to limit constitutionalists (June 1, 1908). Ambassador Zapolski of Russia and Ambassador Marling of Britain openly warn the Majlis to comply with the Shah’s wishes.


Muhammad Ali Shah



[b4] Russian Cossack Brigade in Persia (See photo of Russian Cossack leader Liakhov and a number of his troops – Chaqeri in references), in support of Muhammad Ali Shah, bombarded the Majlis on June 24, 1908.





[b5] By July 1908, the Shah imprisons many constitutionalists. See Photo below (Shuster in references) of their imprisonment at the Bagh-e-Shah (Garden of the Shah) below:







[b6] Surviving delegates fled to Tabriz. In Tabriz, the local Azeris (see photo of Tabriz Mojaheds below – see Chaqeri in References ) join forces with these men and organize a resistance army against the anti-constitutionalist Royalist troops.


Tabriz Mojaheds




[b7] Sattar Khan and his colleague, Bagher Khan, organized the resistance. Volunteers from the Caucasus join Sattar Khan. Sattar Khan resists Royalist forces besieging Tabriz for nine months -attacks barricades on April 22nd, 1909.





[b8] The siege of Tabriz ends – Russians invade and occupy Tabriz on April 1909 -  photo below is the Persian Cossack brigade commanded by Russian officers (see Shuster in References). This unit in particular was a direct instrument of foreign (Russian and indirectly British) influence in Persia in the early 20th century.


Russian Coassack Brigade



Sattar Khan rallied the entire nation of Iran to a constitutional democratic cause, and in this endeavour had the support of the entire spectrum of Iran’s populace, such as the northern Iranians (see 1908 photo of Rasht volunteers below left – Chaqeri in references) and Bakhtiaris from Isfahan (see 1909 photo below right- Chaqeri in references), not to mention Mashad (northeast Iran), etc. It was these Bakhtiaris and Rashtis (from Gilan) who supported Sattar Khan in July 1909. This allowed for the second Majlis to convene.




Mr. Chehreganli avoids any mention of the multi-ethnic nature of Sattar Khan’s movement across Iran (see also the role of the Armenians in part IV, item 1). Sattar Khan and his allies all fought under the Persian banner. Note Sattar Khan’s own comrades in Azerbaijan, shown fighting below in Tabriz under the tricolour Persian flag in 1908 (Chaqeri in references):



Sattar Khan




Professor Atabaki makes clear that:


In the constitutional revolution, like minded Azerbaijanis, Persians, Bakhtiyaris, and Gilanis fought alongside one another against…the absolute arbitrary power of the monarchy…their objective was not to divide this power (of Law and government) among the different ethnic groupings in the country in order to establish separate independent states based on ethnic identity.” (p.28)

[Touraj Atabaki, Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran. Published I.B. Taurus Publishers, 2000]


(c) European Intervention.


Imperial Britain and Czarist Russia were unhappy at the prospect of a Persian government that did not cater primarily to their economic interests. They did their utmost to destroy the fruits of the constitutional movement and supported the autocratic Shah. Their tactic was to lure Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan from Tabriz to Tehran. To that end, there appears to be a connection to a certain telegram issued to Mr. George Birly, British ambassador in Iran on March 16, 1910 by the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


If the British and Russians were hoping to isolate and possibly discredit Sattar Khan and Bagher khan, they certainly failed. When Sattar Khan arrived in Tehran on 3 April 1910; the citizens of Tehran were ecstatic in their welcome and hailed him as a national hero and messiah. Both Sattar Khan and fellow Azeri comrade-in-Arms, Bagher Khan had been bestowed with the “Sardar-e-Melli” (Leader of the Nation) title by the Tehran assembly. The assembly also ordered that gold plaque portraits be drawn in honour of both Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan in recognition of their services to Persia. Throughout Iran, in places such as Rasht, Tehran, Qazvin or Isfahan, committees proudly bore the name "Sattar Khan".  Sattar Khan and his followers then settled in Tehran’s Atabak Park.


It is here where a gross tragedy occurred. Details are not totally clear, however it appears that a coalition of radical Constitutionalists wanted to disarm Sattar Khan, in the interests of party building along European lines (see Chaqeri p.166 in References).. These included many of Sattar Khan’s former Azeri comrades from Tabriz (e.g. Tabriz Social-Democratic group) as well as other Azeris such as Taqhizadeh. The Armenian Yephrem Khan, another one of Sattar Khan’s comrade in arms, was chief of Tehran’s police and was present in Atabak Park. A shooting incident broke on the night of August 7, 1910. Sattar Khan was injured by the police and he died on November 9, 1914. He was buried in Tehran’s Shah Abdul Azim’s graveyard. To this day, Sattar Khan’s exploits and commitment to Constitutional reform in Persia are vividly recalled in Iranian literature.


With respect to the Atabak Park incident, Chehreganli’s supporters claim that “…Sattar Khan was killed by the racist Persians…”.  As noted by Professor Chaqeri:


What is usually and intentionally forgotten…is…that…the revolutionaries were divided into two hostile political camps: the radicals and the conservatives…this new atmosphere…led to bloodshed…the idea of disarming (Sattar Khan’s) Mojaheds and Feda’is originated simultaneously in…the radical constitutionalists and in the British and Russian governments…the majority of those who took part in the Atabak park incident belonged to the radical wing of revolutionary fighters…Taqhizadeh (himself Azeri from Tabriz)…his close associates (included many Azeris)…and the Tabriz Social-Democratic Group

[Chaqeri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Modern Iran, 2001, p.166-167].


Predictably, Mr. Chehreganli’s attempts at falsifying history fail when exposed to archival research. It would appear that Mr. Chehreganli is hoping to re-narrate the political factions (Radical vs. Conservative) at Atabak Park in terms of ethnic groups (Persian vs. Azeri).


The Atabak park tragedy did not derail the democratically representative Tehran Assembly (Majlis), thanks to the original exploits of Sattar Khan. The Tehran Assembly, turned to Morgan Shuster (see Shuster in References), to act as treasurer-general with wide-ranging powers to finally put Persia’s chaotic financial house in order. Shuster arrived on May 1911. Imperial Russia was furious – Shuster’s reforms were viewed as a threat. The Russians demanded the following from Tehran’s assembly (Majlis) (see Adelson, p.96 in References):


[a] Shuster was to be immediately dismissed

[b] The Iranian gendarmes were to replaced by Russian controlled Cossacks

[c] Persia was to issue an official apology to Czarist Russia


Naturally, the Majlis rejected this affront to Persia’s sovereignty. Russia promptly invaded Persia through Azerbaijan and by the end of 1911 re-issued its dictates:


[a] Shuster was again demanded to be immediately dismissed

[b] No other foreign advisors were to be hired by the Majlis without prior British and Russian approval

[c] Persia was to reimburse Russia for the costs of its military invasion of Persia


The Majlis again rejected the Imperial Russian demands. The British government was fully supportive of Russian actions – even the potential of a modern, forward looking domestic democracy within Iran was unfathomable to the policymakers of London and Moscow.


The Russians and their anti-Constitutionalist supporters took full advantage of these events to kill off many of the Iranian constitutional activists in Tabriz during their 1911-1912 invasion of northern Persia. . Note 1912 photo of the Russian hanging of Sattar Khan’s nephews at left (Chaqeri in References) and the disembowelment of Yusef Hokhabad by local Russophiles (a Tabriz supporter of the Iranian constitutional movement - Chaqeri in References) at right:




Note picture below of more executions of Democratic reformers in Tabriz; figures with drawn swords and man at right are Tsarist Russian troops:






By 1914, 20,000 Russian troops were occupying much of Northern Persia (see Chaqeri, p.286 and Mclean, p.82 in references). The photographic evidence of their brutality is historically documented. Chaqeri cites W.S. Blunt (see References; blunt also cited in Part I, item 1) who stated:


There has been an abominable massacre by the Russians at Tabriz…men, women and children killed, women raped and every imaginable abomination perpetuated…This is (British Prime Minister) Grey’s doing as distinctly as he had given the orders; yet almost no protest is made in our (British) press

[Wilfred S. Blunt, My Diaries, Being a Personal Narrative of Events (Part II: 1900-1914), pp.213, 388-389].


(d) SANAM & the Fabrication of History.


Incredibly, despite historical archives and massive documentation (see Adelson, Blunt, Browne, Chaqeri, and Shuster in references), the followers of Chehreganli reject all of this information and insist that all of the atrocities were exclusively committed by “murderous Persians” (virtually no mention of the Russian and British roles).


The information expostulated in this section of the commentary is being thoroughly distorted, re-narrated and even expunged by pan-Turanian ideologues (recall SANAM website and its narrative of Sattar Khan) and their western supporters (see Brenda Shaffer in part VI, item 4c).


When factual information is presented to Chehregani and his followers, the predictable psychological reaction is that of cognitive dissonance cited earlier with respect to Professor Diker and Elchibey. Sattar Khan’s movement is even being re-narrated as “a Turkish movement”. 


If Sattar Khan was indeed a pan-Turanian activist, then:


(a) Why would non-Azerbaijanis, like the Rashtis, Mazandaranis or Bakhtiaris support him?

(b) Why was he a powerful symbol of the entire constitutional movement in Persia?

(c) Why was he honoured twice by the Tehran national assembly?

(d) Why does he remain one of Iran’s most potent symbols of justice and egalitarianism?


To state that Sattar Khan was anti-Persian is as historically illogical as stating that George Washington, the first president of the American Republic, was anti-American!


Sattar Khan would roll in his grave if he heard of Mr. Chehreganli, the SANAM movement and the UAM. The majority of Iranian Azerbaijanis are deeply offended by Mr. Chehreganli’s claims regarding Sattar Khan (see “Welcome to Tabriz Iran” weblink in Website References). Many view Chehreganli’s fiction as simply another divisive tool which is being ultimately perpetuated by geopolitical objectives (Part VI).


Chereganli is determined to destroy Persia, and in that endeavour he has created another fictional narrative: Babak Khorramdin, one of Persia’s greatest champions, is now claimed as a pan-Turanian hero.


(6) Babak Khorramdin was a Turk who fought against Persia.


Babak Khorramdin (Persian for “those of who follow the joyful religion”) is one of ancient Persia’s greatest icons. Babak (see reconstruction below) fought the Arabian Abbassid Caliphate in Baghdad (750-1258 AD) to restore the independence of Persia  which had been lost after the Arab victories over the Sassanian Empire at the Battles of Qadissiya (637 AD) and Nehavand 651 (AD). 







Predictably, Babak Khorramdin has now been retroactively Turkified by SANAM and re-named as “Bay Beg”. Mr. Chereganli claims that Babak and his followers were:

(a) all Turkish

(b) fighting “the racist Persians to free themselves from Persia”.


Again, a quick study of historical archives contradicts pan-Turanian claims. First, Babak’s name is derived from that of the first Sassanian monarch Ardashir-e-Babak-an, who lived hundreds of years before Khorramdin. The name “Babak” is derived from the name of the father of the first monarch of the Sassanian Empire (224-651 AD), Ardashir I Babak-an (180-239 AD). Babak/Pabek was himself the son of Sassan, the high priest at the Temple of goddess Anahita in Persis (see Wilcox, p.36 in References). Babak can also mean “little father” or “faithful” in Sassanian Pahlavi (see Mackenzie in References). Babak is also the name of a character in the Shahname epic.


As noted previously (items 2-3), the Turkish language did not arrive in Azerbaijan and Arran until three centuries later at the earliest. The inhabitants of historical Azerbaijan (in Iran) and Arran spoke Iranian languages at the time (items 1-2). Babak and his followers never spoke a word of Turkish.


Romano-Byzantine sources are clear in identifying the Babak Khorramdin rebellion as a Persian movement aimed at re-establishing Persia’s independence from Arab Caliphate rule and reviving her Zoroastrian past (see for example Reference for Laurent (Canard), esp. pages 133-134 357-381). Oxford Medieval historian, Professor Mark Whittow has noted that:


Azerbaijan was the scene of frequent anti-caliphal and anti-Arab revolts during the eighth and ninth centuries, and Byzantine sources talk of Persian warriors seeking refuge in the 830s from the caliph’s armies by taking service under the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (p.195)Azerbaijan had a Persian population and was a traditional centre of the Zoroastrian religion(p.203)…The Khurramites were a…Persian sect, influenced by Shiite doctrines, but with their roots in a pre-Islamic Persian religious movement (p.215)”.

[Whittow, Mark, The Making of Byzantium: 600-1025, Berkley: University of California Press, p.195, 203, 215].


There are simply no historical references to Babak (or any of his followers) being Turkish, or fighting for a “Turkish homeland”. As noted previously, Pan-Turanian activists (e.g. UAM) simply reject any history or factual information that contradicts their views. Mr. Chehreganli himself represents the classic psychological case of cognitive dissonance par excellence.


For over a thousand years, the people of Azerbaijan have held annual celebrations (July 9th) to honor the exploits of Babak Khorramdin. Babak’s fort is located in Azerbaijan’s Bez Mountain (see photo below). The fort was the base from which Babak Khorramdin, his brave and resilient wife, Banu Khorramdin and his followers began their long resistance movement against the Abbasid caliphs (816-837 AD). They were identified as the “Sorkh-Jamegan” (Persian for “those who wear red attire”); red has been the colour of many Zoroastrian and ancient mystical Aryan cults in pre-Islamic Persia [xxvii] .





Pan-Turanian activists have attempted to turn these celebrations into anti-Persian events. There are reports that Grey Wolves activists from Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan join the celebrations, chant anti-Iranian slogans and distribute anti-Iran literature (Parts III & IV). This is dramatically illustrated by the photograph below (from Mr. Chehreganli’s aforementioned SANAM website) showing pan-Turanian activists raising their hands with the Grey Wolf salute. As noted in Part I (item 2b), this salute is based on the fictitious Grey Wolf legend originally invented by the pan-Turanian ideologues of Turkey. Although Grey Wolves activists would beg to differ, their salute is as historically meaningless (and alien) to Azerbaijanis as it is for Armenians and Greeks.   



Azer-WolvesWolf Hand


The people who engage in the racist Grey Wolf salute are insulting their ancestral Iranian heritage – just as the misled and ignorant Russian neo-Nazis are glorifying their greatest enemy: Hitler and Nazism (see Part IV, item 5).


It is truly tragic to see how ignorant and indifferent a select number of Iranian Azerbaijanis (and Iranians in general) have become with respect to their history – a cultural vacuum which allows racist opportunists (and their geopolitical allies) to cynically exploit, not only in Azerbaijan, but in many parts of Iran (Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Baluchistan, etc.).


There is also a painting of Babak Khorramdin wearing Grey Wolf head gear – another attempt at falsely portraying this ancient Persian icon as “Turanian” (note that his complexion has been deliberately painted in a yellowish hue to suggest Asiatic ancestry):





Though entertaining at first sight, this painting is portraying the Babak that never was. This is yet another assault against Persia’s heritage, identity and the historical unity of her people.  How offended would the Turks be if foreigners began claiming Alp Arslan or Suleiman the magnificent as non-Turks?


To claim that Babak Khorramdin was an anti-Persian Turkish separatist is as illogical as claiming Sam Houston was a Mexican who fought in the name of Greater Spain against Texas. 


(7) Azerbaijanis and all who speak Turkish are Turkish by race.


(a) Ziya Gokalp.


The notion of Azeris being Turkish because of language is based on the late Ziya Gokalp (1876-1924) who equated language with racial and ethnic membership: you are racially Turkish if you speak Turkish. This is a standard argument of characters like Mr. Chehreganli and his western geopolitical supporters. Gokalp was in fact a Kurd born in Diyarbakr. He is one of a long line of non-Turks who helped build pan-Turanian ideology (Part I, item 1).





By no means is the discussion in this item attempting to simplistically outline the complex (and anthropolically interwoven) Iranian and Turkish national, ethnic, and linguistic identities. Such a Herculean task would require volumes of text. Instead, we are clearly confining the discussion to the linear and (in my opinion) divisive concept of “race” – in the purely anthological sense.


The main weakness of Gokalp’s simplistic premise is his oversimplification of the complex interrelationships between ethnicity, nationality, language and historical migrations. His logic is that speakers of a language “X” must also be racially members of “X”.


A Canadian anthropologist (who does not wish to be named in this commentary) has recently noted to me of the humorous application of Gokalp’s logic to North American English speakers. In the United States alone, millions of English speakers are of African descent. However, English is a Germanic language, originally spoken by the Anglo-Saxon invaders of ancient 4th century Romano-Celtic Britain. If Gokalp’s logic is correct, African Americans and European Americans must be of the same racial stock as they both speak English. For a more visual example, compare the photos of Black-American actor Samuel L. Jackson (left) with contemporary Hollywood director Peter Jackson (right):


Samuel-Jackson Peter-Jackson


Both characters share the name “Jackson”, as well as the English language. Being an Anglophone and having an English name does not mean that one is automatically Anglo-Saxon by race. In that case, the entire Black, Asian, Hispanic, Amerindian population of the United States and Canada are Anglo-Saxons. Likewise, being a Turcophone does not mean that one is automatically Turkish or Turkic by race. National identity is based on a number of domains, only one of which is defined by language. Nevertheless, this simplistic logic (language = race) is being used to attack the Iranian heritage of the people of Azerbaijan and Iran in general. 


But since when does language alone define cultural and/or national identity? As your writer, I write in English, does this mean that I, like Peter Jackson, am Anglo-Saxon?


National identity is multi-faceted. A Belgian could be either a Francophone (Walloon) or Dutch dialect speaker (Flemish). A Frenchman can be Basque (Eskuri) or speak an Italian dialect (e.g. Provencal, Corsican, etc.). In northern France, many of the inhabitants lay claim to a proud Celtic tradition (Brittany).


Have you, gentle reader, ever contemplated that the so-called “Middle East peoples” (itself a bogus and meaningless term) are just as complex and diverse in their origins as the peoples of Europe and the rest of the world? It is a mystery as to why westerners have insisted on applying such linear, simplistic and rigid concepts to define complex peoples such as Iranians, Turks and Arabs?  These rigidly simplistic concepts are highly divisive and misleading. 


Many modern Turks hail from Bosnian, Georgian, Iranian (Persian, Kurdish, Azeri) Greek, Arab, Venetian, Slavic and Armenian backgrounds. Arabs are just as diverse – in the eastern Arab world, many have Iranian ancestry (Persian and Kurdish) – the Levant has seen multitudes of Hittite, Mittani, etc. settlers in its history.  In the Western Arab world one finds a plethora of Christians (Greek Orthodox, Coptic, etc.). One can also trace much of the ancestry of modern Arabs to the earlier Semitic peoples such as the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians (Aramaic-speakers), Syriacs, etc.    


The Iranian ethnic mosaic is far too complex to even begin attempting to define it in the confines of this commentary. If we extend timelines back to pre-Aryan arrivals, we witness proto-Elamites in the Southwest and Southeast, and Hurrian arrivals from the Caucasus. We then have a long period of Iranian Aryan migrations onto the Iranian plateau and eastern Anatolia (many areas of western Iran and modern Kurdistan was already settled by Assyrian peoples). Arab settlers also arrived during Sassanian and post-Sassanian eras (a number of their descendants survive in Khorrassan and Tajikestan) – these are then eclipsed by subsequent Turkic and Mongol arrivals. The very overall sketch just outlined highlights how complex definitions such as “race” and “language” are.


Gokalp was not entirely wrong about Iran – there are a plethora of Turkic settlers who can trace their ancestry to the original Oghuzz (the aforementioned Nader Shah was a Turkmen). But even the identity of the Turkmen (meaning “very Turk”) is hotly disputed. There are claims of strong Iranic admixture within them. This is not surprising as Turkic and Iranic peoples have been intertwined in Central Asia for thousands of years. Even the Mongols who invaded Persia are said to have had some Iranian (North Iranic?) ancestry (see Turnbull in references).   


Interestingly, no mainstream western, Turkish, or Iranian scholars have challenged the logical veracity of Gokalp’s argument that Azerbaijanis are Turkish simply because they speak Turkish. This is one area of academic and popular complacency, especially amongst the Iranians and Europeans, that has allowed pan-Turaninism to come as far as it has today.   


(b) The Richards et al. Genetic Studies.


Genetic studies have provided very interesting results. Professor Martin Richards and 26 other researchers conducted a very detailed genetic analysis of Turks, Arabs, and Iranians.


The sample body of Ossetians (n=106 - large), Azerbaijanis (n=48 – adequate sample size), and Kurds (n=53 - adequate sample size) were more than sufficient to be able to draw conceptually valid inferences. In addition, the study had a large number of Armenians (n=109) as well.


A major conceptual flaw with the study was that Kurds, Azerbaijanis and Ossetians were segregated from the Iranian sample. This has resulted in two major shortcomings:


[a] Incorrect delineation of the Iranian family: Ossetians are descendants of the North Iranian Alans (see Part I, item 2l); Kurds descendants of the west-Iranian Mede as well as North Iranian Alan and Saka peoples. In addition, no Mazandaranis, Rashtis, Baluchis, Khorassanis, etc. were examined. It is also unclear why the large Richards research team excluded Iranian specialists from participating in the study. The study certainly enlisted the help of world class Turkish (e.g. Professor Mukaddes Golge) and Arabian (e.g. Professor Nadia Al-Zaheri) specialists.


[b] Small sample size: Only 12 subjects were defined as “Iranians”. These are too few to draw any statistically valid conclusions – you need at least 30 subjects in scientific studies (see Tabachnik & Fidell, Rencher, and Jaccard in references). This means that the reports of the Richards team on the “Iranians” are statistically invalid.


Nevertheless, the study has yielded dramatically significant results, despite its conceptual flaws in ethnically classifying Iranians. Put simply, the results strongly contradict pan-Turanian ideology.


The results are especially interesting with respect to Azeris. Azeris, like the Kurds, Ossetians and Armenians, show a high incidence of U5 lineages – genes common among Europeans as a whole. The results are aptly summarized as such:


…many Armenian and Azeri types are derived from European and northern Caucasian types (p.1263)The U5 cluster… in Europe… although rare elsewhere in the Near east, are especially concentrated in the Kurds, Armenians and Azeris…a hint of partial European ancestry for these populations – not entirely unexpected on historical and linguistic grounds (p.1264)”

[Richards et al., (2000). Tracing European founder lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA pool. American Journal of Human Genetics, 67, p.1263-1264, 2000]


One of my colleagues has noted that these results are as threatening to pan-Turanian ideology as they are to European neo-Nazi/Nordicist movements. Nordicists are vehemently (and violently) opposed to any notion that Europeans have racial connections to any peoples of the Near East.


Among academic researchers however, these findings are neither earth-shattering nor surprising. They are simply another piece of the puzzle of the Indo-European origins of the Iranian family and the Armenians. What is especially damaging to pan-Turanian ideology is the notion that Azerbaijanis and Armenians may have much more in common that has been admitted.


But there is one finding that most likely is of interest to modern day Turks: The Richards team had a large sample of Turks from Turkey (n=218) and also found incidences of the U5 gene cluster.


This is not surprising either. The Turkish language is historically, a relative newcomer to Anatolia; it was introduced by a minority of Turkic Oghuzz warriors from Central Asia (recall Part II, item 2).


The genetic ancestry of modern Turks is highly varied, mainly as a result of multiple migrations, wars and empires. While modern Turks (and a growing number of Hungarians) stress their genetic connection to Central Asia, scientific evidence fails to corroborate their beliefs. True, there are Turkmen Turks of Central Asian stock in eastern Turkey, however a large proportion of modern Turks have Balkan, Persian, Greek, Armenian, Kurdish, Azeri, Georgian, Varangian, and even some Celtic ancestry. The latter seems surprising; however the term “Ankara” may be derived from the Celtic “Ankyra”. The Galatian Celts appear in Anatolia’s interior after the Greeks defeated them in 230 BC.  The original Turkic stock from Central Asia (some of whom live in northeast Iran today) have little or no connection to the European-type U5 cluster.


(c) The Analyses of Colin Renfrew.


Professor Colin Renfrew (see 1994 References) notes how Turkic languages spread by Elite Dominance:


…incoming minorities…conquer other populations and…impose their languages on them. The Altaic family spread in this fashion…

[Colin Renfrew, World linguistic diversity, Scientific American, 270(1), 1994, p.118]


Genetic alteration can only occur as a result of one of more of the following:

[a] Sustained migrations across a long period of time

[b] Population dispersals by farming,

[c] Dispersals forced by climactic changes.


In general, the Turks did not arrive peacefully but as conquering elites who imposed their languages upon indigenous populations (Azeris, Arranis, etc.). Conquering elites provide very modest genetic changes to the indigenous populations that they conquer.  However, they can alter the population’s language as result of their elite military and political dominance. 


(d) The Cavalli-Sforza et al. Genetic Studies.


Renfrew’s studies have been corroborated by Professor Luigi Cavalli-Sforza (see photo below) and his colleagues, who have concluded the following after decades of genetic research:


Around the third century B.C., groups speaking Turkish languages…threatened empires in China, Tibet, India, Central Asia, before eventually arriving in Turkey…genetic traces of their movement can sometimes be found, but they are often diluted, since the numbers of conquerors were always much smaller than the populations they conquered(p.125)…Turks…conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453..replacement of Greek with Turkish ..Genetic effects of invasion were modest in Turkey. Their armies had few soldiers…invading Turkish populations would be small relative to the subject populations that had a long civilization and history(p.152). 

[Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi (2000). Genes, Peoples and Languages. New York: North Point Press. P.125, 152]






Interestingly, Cavalli-Sforza notes of a broad genetic grouping that includes many parts of Iran, Turkey, the Caucasus and Greece. While these regions certainly vary in their histories, religions and languages, one can find many cultural facets in common (cuisine being one small example). Turks have much stronger anthropological links to Iranians, Greeks and Armenians than their ideologues would wish to admit. Racialism however is the dogma of division and hate: information such as this is ignored.


European researchers have long known of the dichotomy between Grey Wolf pan-Turanian ideology and factual information. Note the following observation by history Professor Fernandez-Arnesto:


The homogeneity of the (Turkish) nation is an unwritten dogma, although few Turks would seriously maintain that they are a pure race. For thousands of years before their arrival, Anatolia has been the home of the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Assyrians and countless forgotten peoples, as well as being a highway into Europe for conquering armies. In that mixture of genes, the Turks were just one more ingredient…the Janissaries…were recruited in boyhood from the Christian subject peoples…in the multiracial Ottoman Empire, many soldiers and administrators took wives from among the inhabitants of the provinces in which they served ”.

[]Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto, The Peoples of Europe, London: Times Books, 1994, p.203]


What Professor Fernandez-Arnesto states has been known to international scholarship for a long time. Few in the international scholastic arena have been swayed by what Professor Fernandez-Arnesto characterizes as the “homogeneity…dogma” of a single Turkish “race”. Hungarians speak a language that is a distant relative of Turkish; does this mean they are Turkic by race? Grey Wolf activists would insist that the answer is a resounding “yes”, however the aforementioned genetics Professor Cavalli-Sforza again contradicts dogma:


…a Magyar (Hungarian) monarchy imposed its language on the local Romance-speaking population…Today barely 10 percent of the genes in Hungary can be attributed to Uralic (Turkic) conquerors…

[Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi, Genes, Peoples and Languages, New York: North Point Press, 2000, p.151]


(e) Transcending the Concept of “Race”.


Hungarians are considered to be Magyar speaking Europeans – not an Asiatic Turkic people. In like manner, why are the Azerbaijanis (of Iran in particular) being forcibly re-defined as “Turanian” simply because they speak Seljuk Oghuzz Turkish? How can a single index (Turkish language) be used to virtually erase Azerbaijan’s mighty civilizational identity in Persia? Azerbaijan has been of vital importance in the development of Persian civilization, just as Hungary has been a vital element in the development of European civilization.


It is here where Professor Diker’s “genetic proof” of a “Turkish-Etruscan” connection (Part II, item 2e) can be logically disassembled. Like Gokalp, Professor Diker is confusing “Turkophone” with “Turkic” (as in Central Asian). The study cited by Diker has only demonstrated a link between the inhabitants of today’s Turkey (I suspect mainly, western Turkey) and the Etruscans. But as we have seen, modern Turks are a highly varied genetic mix who speak Turkish (excepting the Kurds of Eastern Turkey). Has Professor Diker compared the ancient Etruscans to modern day Sinkiang Turks for example?


Cultural links between Anatolia, mainland Greece and southern Italy have been in existence for thousands of years. This cultural system was itself linked first to the ancient Mesopotamian cultures and later to Persia. Nik Spatari (see references) has provided an exhaustive compendium of the artistic and cultural intercourse between the different peoples of the Aegean, pre-Roman Calabrian and Estruscan Italy, Anatolia, and Persia. The term used to summarize this ancient cultural zone is called “Assi-tite” by Spatari. The aforementioned Richards study provides support for the already established archeological analyses by noting on:


the heavy historical gene flow between Greece and other populations of the eastern Mediterranean”.

[Richards et al, 2000, p.1267]


Again, none of these studies reveal any Central Asian or Turkish speaking connections, as no Turks existed in the Caucasus, Anatolia, the Near East, the Aegean or Persia at the times of the ancient Sumerians, Hittites, Greeks, Achaemenids, etc. In essence, scientific studies, historical archives, anthropology, linguistics and Socratic questioning fail to substantiate pan-Turanian ideology [xxviii] . It would seem that Professor Diker and pan-Turanian activists are simply playing with semantics by replacing terms such as “Greek” and “Persian” with “Turkish”.  Professor Diker will undoubtedly invent a way of explaining away everything that has been discussed in this section. Indeed, the pseudo-science of racialism utilizes word play, fact distortion, archival falsification, and creative semantics as its main methods of inquiry. Racialists always appear under the guise of “science” and “history”, but in reality, they are nothing more than intellectual hooligans seeking to appease their cognitive dissonance.


As noted repeatedly in this commentary, racist dogma of any creed or persuasion fails the test of objective scrutiny. The thesis of a pan-Turanian homeland in which the inhabitants of Central Asia, Sinkiang, modern Turkey and Azerbaijan are all one “super race” is based on fiction. This is similar to the Nazi fantasy of the “Aryan super nation” that would encompass much of the Eurasian landmass.


Language is only one of the many domains that may or may not define national identity. Similarly, the tribalistic concept of “race” cannot be used to define national identity in a binary fashion. In the American Republic, an American can be of any “race” (Black, Asian, Anglo-Saxon, or Hispanic), religion (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) or political persuasion. In Iran, the definition goes even further – to be an Iranian one does not even have to speak Persian as one’s first language. In Khuzistan there are Arab-speakers, in the southwest Baluchi, in the west Kurdish and Luri, and in some parts of Khorrassan, Fars and of course Azerbaijan: Turkish. India, an ancient civilization with many links to Persia, has dozens of languages and dialects and a variety of faiths and cultures, yet all are subsumed under a single and distinguished civilization.


Modern Turks are just as accepting of diversity (irrespective of the Kurdish issue today), undoubtedly a result of their high level of education. In cosmopolitan Istanbul (ancient Constantinople), one can hear Georgian, Kurdish, and Persian spoken alongside Turkish. There is also a thriving Jewish community – thanks to the generosity of the Sultans who welcomed the persecuted Jews of medieval Spain. Although many of Turkey’s enemies would beg to differ, Turks have all the hallmarks of a civilization.


It is here where the strict application of “Nationalism” appears to fail. A true pluralistic domain is able to accept and embrace all, regardless of “nationality”, “race”, or “language”. What do we mean by the “pluralistic domain”? Here we speak of a true civilization (e.g. Western civilization, Islamic civilization, India, etc.). The enemies of that civilization are racialist and religious dogmas.  


How simplistically vulgar it is dehumanize peoples into “my race-your race”, especially when it comes to Iranians and Turks. As noted before, Iranians and Turks are two peoples whose fates have been intertwined: Turkic and Iranic mixtures are evident from the mountains of the Tien Shan all the way to the shores of the Aegean. There are so many beautiful and complex mixtures of the two peoples that it almost boggles the mind.


It is here were the barbaric aspects of “race criteria” break down. In Afghanistan we have the Mongol descended “Hazara” (lit. “The Thousand” in Persian) who now speak Persian, or the many people of Khazar Turkish-Jewish descent in Dagestan (next to Chechniya) who speak Persian. Conversely, Azerbaijanis are an essentially Iranic people who mainly speak Turkish. A branch of the Turcophone Azeris are believed to have been settled in Iran’s Fars province by the Safavids– they are today known as the Qashqai’s (note photo of Qashaqi girl by Shahyar Mahabadi).





“Aryan” Persia is herself is indebted to peoples such as the Babylonians, Sumerians, Elamites or Kartvelians. The Turkic peoples such as the Ghaznavids, Mamluks, Seljuks and even the Ottomans were great patrons of Persian literature, poetry, arts and music (recall Part II, item 4). To this day, one can see Persian inscriptions in the Dulmabahce Palace of Istanbul. The often unfairly vilified Arabs, under the Islamic Empire, allowed for the transmission of much (Sassanian) Persian knowledge and culture to Spain.  Iranian Jewry has a long history inside of Persia, dating back to Median times. Jews have often played a key role in the preservation and promotion of Persian language and culture. Persia, since its inception, has housed a plethora of “races”, languages and religions, and is home to all of them. The genetic tapestry of Persia is best exemplified by the Persian carpet: a complex interweave of diverse and intricate colours and designs. 

(8) Iranian complacency.


This author has critically focused on the activities of the Grey Wolves in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. However, to blame the current situation exclusively on pan-Turanian ideologues is overly simplistic. It is a fact that the Iranians (as a whole) are also to blame for the current predicament. 


But in what way? The answer to that question obliges one to enter a veritable hornet’s nest of (endless) political debates and passionate discussions with no end. By no means does this writer offer any “solutions”, nor does this writer pretend to be the “ultimate expert” in any sense. However, it is possible to share a number of surprising observations.


(a) Difficulty balancing Aryan Persia with Islam  


The first western intellectual to astutely observe this has been author/researcher, Sandra. In her book (The Iranians – see References), Mackie points to the classic Iranian identity conundrum: pride in Persia versus loyalty to Islam. Although it is not the place of the author to offer sweeping opinions, an idea may be entertained. Many Iranians are somewhat “binary” or “black and white” when it comes to their national identity. 


Makie notes that there seems to be a divide between those who appreciate the past of Persia versus those who only wish to identify with Islam. A number of the former (Persia’s past) usually tend to hold anti-Islamic views and (unfairly) blame the Arabs for Iran’s historical and present-day ills. In contrast, a number of the latter (Islamic identity) view Persia’s pre-Islamic past with disdain and contempt.


This intellectual “tug of war” has been very damaging in that it has absorbed much of the Iranian intellectual impetus for nearly a century (perhaps longer). It has allowed for the rise of anti-Persian cultural expression (see (b) below). Many Iranians are simply tired of this “binary” state of affairs, and wish to arrive at a healthy synthesis: accommodating Persia’s Aryan heritage with its mighty legacy in the formation of Islamic civilization.  


(b) Toleration of Anti-Persian cultural expressions  


Iranians have been surprisingly meek in the face of certain anti-Persian cultural expressions notably the following.


 “Nasee-o-naleest”. The above mentioned “tug of war” (Persia-Islam) has produced a unqiue phenomenon among a number of the Iran’s new generation: rejection of Persia and Islam. This view is associated with a unique interpretation of western liberalism. Any pride expressed with respect to Persia is labeled as “Nasee-o-naleest” (derived from the western-English word “nationalist”).


The label associates authoritarianism, dictatorship, narrow-minded, and violent oppression with virtually any favorable observations of Persia, especially pre-Islamic (Aryan) Persia. Some of this may be explained by the alienation of Iran’s youth at present from the endless political wranglings, not to mention the constant state of international confrontation. The term may also be partly traced to a number of leftist political activists of the latter days of the former Pahlavi regime.


Another “modern” view is that Iran’s past history is irrelevant simply because it happened in the past, and as such bears no relation to the present. This belief is especially targeted against Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage. This view may have its origins in the anti-Pahlavi regime movements of the 1960s and 1970s.


Choveneesm-e-Fars. A number of leftist political platforms in the 1960s and 1970s re-cycled a term that had been invented by Soviet historians: “Choveneesm-e-Fars”. As the term was originally associated with the discredited pro-Soviet Pishevari movement, it was never taken seriously by the majority of Iran’s populace.


Choveneesm-e-Fars” is a term that challenges the historical unity of Persia in three ways. First, it states that the “real Persia” only constitutes the Persian-speaking heartlands and the northeast. This is the logic that any Iranian domain in which Persian is not the majority language, is not an integral part of Persia in the historical and cultural sense, and must seceede. Second, Persians are seen as “oppressors” of the “cultural and linguistic rights” of non-Persians. Third, any individual who challenges that assertion is labeled as a “Persian chauvinist” and/or “Nasee-o-naleest”.


The term “Choveneesm-e-Fars” is still used by the followers of the highly discredited and unpopular MKO (Mujaheddin Khalq Organization). This observation is denied by the MKO of course. Nevertheless, actions speak louder than words. The leadership of the MKO was on Saddam Hussein’s payroll throughout much of the Iran-Iraq war. MKO ideologues fought against regular Iranian troops and terrorized Iranian civilians throughout that war. The MKO continued to support Saddam’s territorial claims to southwest Iran (Khuzistan) right up to US-led invasion of Iraq. The below audio-video news clip provides rare footage of the leader of the MKO (Massoud Rajavi) meeting with and Saddam Hussein and Tariq Aziz (kindly click on the box below):



Mr. Rajavi’s allusions to “Choveneesm-e-Fars” neatly coincided with Pan-Arab claims to Khuzestan.


The term “Choveneesm-e-Fars” was one of an array of political weapons used by the Iranian left in the 1960s and 1970s to mobilize Iran’s various ethnic groups (Baluchis, Azeris, Khuzestan Arabs, Turcomen, etc.) in a bid to eject the former Pahlavi regime from power.


Perhaps the Iranian leftists originally viewed “Choveneesm-e-Fars” from a romantic-Bohemian “human rights” vantage point; whatever their motives the damage has been done.


Today, the MKO has found powerful western patrons, particularly the English, Americans and Israelis. In their myopia to support the MKO, geopolitical lobbies seem to have conveniently forgotten the fact that it was the MKO who murdered American personnel in the 1970s. Their ideology was vehemently anti-modern and anti-western in its inception. The movement is said to resemble a cult and all democratic dissent is violently suppressed. MKO denies all of these allegations of course.


Although Iranians rightly despise the MKO, very few are aware of the cultural weapons they are promoting. Organizations like the MKO openly advocate anti-Persian cultural terminology (Choveneesm-e-Fars) and ally themselves with geopolitically funded separatist groups in their short-sighted and selfish bids to gain political office.


The term “Choveneesm-e-Fars” is now a cultural geo-political weapon at the hands of the MKO against the cultural, historical and territorial integrity of Persia. Mr. Rajavi has made common cause with Mr. Chehreganli, who states in his website the need to “liberate the “oppressed peoples of Iran” from “Choveneesm-e-Fars”.


(c) Iran’s Neglect of Persian culture    


As noted succinctly by Professor Olson:


What is ironic about the fact that the“Azerbaijan question” was allowed to devolop to the stage that it did from 1991 to the present is that it occurred under the watch of an Islamic Republic preaching the universalist discourse of Islam, never realizing that such values could result in accelerated particularisms, including the strengthening of sub-group nationalisms the could grow to threaten the state

[Olson, Robert, Turkey-Iran Relations, 1979-2004: Revolution, Ideology, War, Coups and Geopolitics, 2004, p.156].


As Olson has duly observed above, the current regime in Tehran appears to be overly interested in Arabian affairs (Palestinian issues, etc.) and neglecting the cultural state of affairs at home. It is this vacuum, created largely by Iran’s current education system that is allowing separatist organizations to operate with virtual impunity.


Iranian high school students at the senior level obtain no education in Persia’s history, especially its pre-Islamic past. These have been largely removed from the curricula since 1979. A professor at the Tarbiat Modarress University (his identiy is hidden in this commentary) noted the following to the author by telephone:


In our university library there are just 3 books on pre-Islamic Persia…pan-Turkist types like Chehreganli, one of our former students, can make claims that Azerbaijan has been Turanian since time immemorial simply because there is no academic platform to stop them…meanwhile pan-Turanian activists in Azerbaijan make unsubstantiated claims…all of this could be easily halted if we had the academic resources…the regime needs to take notice


Given these circumstances, it is no wonder that nonsense narratives about Iranian icons (e.g. Babak Khorramdin, Sattar Khan), history (claiming Azerbaijan as Turanian) or languages (claiming Parthian as Turkish) are have been allowed to spread among Iran’s youth – there simply are no adequately organized educational structures in place to combat pan-Turanian ideology.


Nevetheless there are signs that the people of Iran are taking notice of the dangers of pan-Turanianism. The defense of Iran’s heritage and integrity is now resting mainly on the shoulders of Iran’s people – many of whom (like the author) are non-partisan. The good news is that Iran is literally bursting with books about Persia and the interest is among young and old is spreading.


To its credit, the regime in Tehran seems to have partly woken up to the cultural danger facing Iran. After a long hiatus, a number of western Iranologists are now returning to conduct archaeological surveys in Iran. Conferences on Persia have been gaining ground in Iran as well. There are positive but small steps that can help in the struggle of the people of Iran against organizations such as SANAM, the MKO, Pezhak and the Al-Ahwaz organizations. However, more must be done as the aforementioned separatist organizations have very powerful geopolitical allies and have access to virtually unlimited funds (see discussions in Part VI as well).  


(d) A Bitter Tsarist Legacy    


The information in this section will undoubtedly make a number of Iranians uncomfortable. Nevertheless, despite its unpalatable nature, certain facts need to be addressed.


The followers of Mr. Chehreganli and SANAM often refer to the how “Persian chauvinists” engage in disparaging ethnic jokes against Azeris. Of course, Mr. Chehreganli either does not know, or wants it to be known, that many of these “jokes” are not even Persian in origin.


In Part II, items 5b-c, we noted of the brutal role of Imperial Russian troops in early twentieth century Iran. What is virtually unknown is the role played by Imperial Tsarist agents in fomenting negative and potentially divisive cultural cultural expressions in Iran, especially against Northern Iranians in Gilan (Rasht in particular) and Azerbaijan.


The Russians (and British) were very concerned with a cultural dynamic in Iran that could lead to the rise of a modern and progressive state. The Russians and English were especially concerned with the leadership role that northern Iranians (e.g. Azeris, Rashtis, etc.) had played in Iran’s democratic movement of the early 1900s. It would appear that the united nature of the constitutional movement in which Azeri, Bakhtiari, Mazandarnai, Mashahdi, etc. fought side by side in the name of a democratic, progressive and modern Iran was not palatable to the distinguished policy makers in Moscow and London. A means had to be found to divide the Iranians and dissolve their historical bonds.


It was in here where the Russian secret police had the distinction of inventing the first anti-Iranian cultural weapons. They even outdid the British, who themselves had been working to undermine Iran’s unity since the 19th century (see Part VI, item 10).


The cultural weapons are the so-called venomous “jokes” targeted against Iran’s Azeri population and the north in general (esp. Rasht). This is not surprising as it was always these regions that would put up the first fight against any Russian invasion. The Bakhtiaris and Lurs were also targeted, partly due to fears of their martial abilities. 


The “jokes” themselves are anything but humorous, especially when these are narrated to non-Iranians. In general these “jokes” always question the intelligence of the Azeris and the valour of the Rashtis. The Russian invention is especially ingenious as the Azeris have in reality always been highly industrious and among Iran’s educational elites. Among their many virtues, the Rashtis were known to be good fighters, as was seen in their support of Sattar Khan.


What is not known is that many members of the Imperial Russian secret police (like the KGB later) spoke and wrote fluent Persian and were able to easily blend into Iran’s native population. It did not take long for the so-called “jokes” to take hold.


Each and every time Iranians engage in these so-called “jokes”, they are forwarding an anti-Iranian agenda, one that goes back to the early 1900s. They are also helping Mr. Chehreganli, SANAM and their Geopolitical supporters.




Part I <<< Index >>>Part III

[i] Atabaki, T., Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, p.7.

[ii] Kasravi, A. Azeri ya Zaban-e Bastan-e Azarbaijan, 2nd print, Tehran, Taban, 1938, p.8.

[iii] It is notable that this region was identified as the land in which Zoroastrian “fire-temples were very common”, as cited in Yaqut al-Hamavi, Kitab Mujam Al Buldan, Wustenfled F. (ed.) vol.1, Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1866, p.17.

[iv] Atabaki, T., Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, p.7.

[v] Strabo Geographica, see p. 17-18 regarding Azerbaijan and Arran.

[vi] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid. Matini also notes that Greater Azerbaijan nationalists such as Abbas-Ali Javadi have inaccurately cited the new republic as having been the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. This may perhaps be an attempt to provide a historical (albeit fictional) background for the rise of the Soviet-supported Pishevari movement in Iranian Azerbaijan in the mid-1940s.

[xiii] Chaqueri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, 2001, p.209.

[xiv] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.445.

[xv] The Ottoman Turks had successfully defeated and expelled the Russians from Kars on April 26, 1918, a full month before the declaration of the “Republic of Azerbaijan”. For the little studied area of Ottoman operations and personnel in the Caucasus and Iran during World War One, consult Nicolle, David, The Ottoman Army: 1914-1918, 1994, p.37, 39-40. 

[xvi] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.452.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] Chaqueri, Cosroe, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, 2001, p.118, 174-181, 209-210.

[xix] Rasulzadeh, Mohammad Amin, 1910, Tanqid-e Ferqeh-e E’tedaliyun ya Ejtema’iyun E’tedaliyun, Tehran, Farus. See also citation by Atabaki, Touraj, Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, 2000, p.38.

[xx] Pan-Turanian activists also portray Khiyabani as a sort of “closet separatist”. Refer to Atabaki’s 2000 text for further discussion.

[xxi] Kasravi, A. Tarijh-e-Hejdah Saleh-e Azarbaijan, op. cit., p.872.

[xxii] Blucher, W.V., Zeitenwende, Persian Translation: Safar-nameh-e-Blucher, Tehran, Khwarami, 1984, p.37. Tancoigne, A Narrative, p.177. See Ayandeh (1988), vol 4, no.s 1-2, p. 57-59).

[xxiii] Ramazani, R., op. cit. p.115. See also citation by Atabaki, Touraj, Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, 2000, p.25.

[xxiv] Chaqeri, Origins of Social Democracy in Iran, p.209; Watson, A History, p.26; Bassett, The Land of Imams, p.266; US Consular Report, p.294.

[xxv] Matini, Jalal, “Azerbaijan Koja Ast?”, 1989, Iranshenasi, I(3), p.449.

[xxvi] The author, who is born in Greece, met a number of ex-Greek communists who had fought against Athens on Russia’s behalf after the Second World War. After their defeat, they retreated to Skopje in Yugoslavia, which was re-named by the Communists as “Macedonia”. Russia then bought a number of these to prop up Pishevari’s flagging movement.

[xxvii] The Mazdak rebellion fought centuries earlier during the pre-Islamic Sassanian regin, are also reputed to have worn red garments.

[xxviii] History has seen repeated instances of a minority group introducing its language upon a majority population. The Romance-speaking population of Pannonia adopted the Turkic language of the Hunnic invaders of Attila. Again, the actual genetic trace of the original Magyar Turkic invaders is negligible (see Cavalli-Sforza in references). As noted by Professor Colin Renfrew (see references) languages can be spread by conquest, agricultural and economic factors, occupation of uninhabited lands, and climate changes forcing population movements.